By Lisa Hamel
At first it can be kind of cute. They try to sneak past you at bedtime and play with their toys thinking you won’t hear….. Or with chocolate all over their face, they insist they didn’t eat the last cookie. We’ve all been there. As a young child, my husband even put on 10 pairs of underwear while waiting for a spanking! A child who has the ability to “think on their feet” and work the system is usually one with higher social intelligence. And that can potentially lead to lifestyle of lies if we aren’t careful.
Recently my socially intelligent son lied in a pretty big way about something. It broke our hearts and could have had huge ramifications for the other party involved.
Have you ever wondered why your child lies? Are they lying because they’re bored? Do they want attention? Do they want something they can’t have? Are they are afraid of shame?
Before we talk about how to deal with lies, let’s examine the WHY.
Core Reasons Why We Lie
1. Fear of man or a desire to be worshipped.
You could also think of this as shame and pride. The first lie enticed Eve because she wanted to be like God. In Genesis 3:4 Satan says to Eve, “You will not certainly die.” Well, how did that work out for us? Lies got us kicked out of Eden. Lies now form the backbone of this broken world. Lies are how the enemy keeps many enslaved. Which leads to our next reason.
2. We lie because we are sinners.
We were born into sin and have sinful hearts that can deceive even ourselves. Did you know that our brains can believe our own lies after around Ninety Days?! We can literally re-write our history until our own brains believe it!
3. We lie because we don’t trust God.
For my son, it was an issue of justice that he didn’t see happening. It was a teaching opportunity for us about trusting God to mete out justice in his way and in his time.
Whether you catch your child red-handed or they confess on their own, how we respond to our child’s deception is important.
If they confess on their own:
Appreciate Their Courage - If our kids come forward and admit their lie without us finding out on our own, it’s important to tell them how much we appreciate their courage and promise to walk through restoration with them. In our family we don’t use the word “punish” but rather “discipline” as it is more constructive and hopeful. The courage to come forward always begins rebuilding trust.
If they are caught red-handed:
Take a breather - It’s natural to feel shocked and indignant that our child would do such a thing. If we intensely express our feelings of anger or hurt, they may shut down and regret being honest with us. Because of this, we want to communicate our disappointment in a way that will keep the relationship bigger than the problem. Timing can be super important in this. Take time to cool down before talking with them. It will help everyone to stay relational.
Either way there must be consequences.
Lost trust is usually the best discipline. This may mean different things. The discipline should fit the issue of their heart. The consequence may mean:
- No sleep overs.
- No phone time.
- No extended play time in the neighborhood.
These consequences are not because we delight in withholding from our children, but because we are trying to rebuild trust. We must love our kids enough to allow them to experience the consequences of lost trust.
Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Recently our boys had a spat, and while re-sharing their version of the story, it was an opportunity for us to remind our son that we were still rebuilding trust with him.
Create an intention to rebuild trust in your family. Trust between kids. Trust between parents and trust between parents and kids. They are all important and what tie us together and make our bonds steadfast.
Trust takes time to rebuild and appreciating their responsibility and honesty with each step will go a long way in motivating them. We don’t want to label them as liars. We want to call them up to be trustworthy individuals.
We are desiring that they would, “put off the old self which is being corrupted by it’s deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22b-24)
Though lies are a difficult battle ground in the home, be grateful your children are learning now so they don’t have to deal with bigger consequences as an adult.
Preach the gospel to their hearts
Let’s be honest, lying is a sin. It damages life and relationships, but Jesus died for our sin and took it upon himself so that we can be changed. We want the recognition of our sin to bring us back to the cross which will make us even more grateful for His sacrifice!
We live in a time where truth is becoming increasingly relative. May we be parents who treasure truth in our families and tenderly lead our kids as they become men and women of integrity.
3 John 1:4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
Lisa is currently "SAHM-ing." In the past she has been a pastoral counselor, a singer, a music director, and an accountant! She lives in a multi generational home in the Pacific Northwest with her two boys, her amazing husband, and her mother. She is a coffee snob and a health nut who loves to dance like no one is watching. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!